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Side By Side Review: Donnie, Andrew, Tav on IMAGINARY FRIEND by Stephen Chbosky

IMAGINARY FRIEND: Review by The Horror Hypothesis

When I heard that Stephen Chbosky was moving into the horror genre nearly 20 years after gracing the world with the flawless coming of age novel, THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, I was thrilled.  I absolutely love when writers branch out and explore different genres and I had a strong feeling that Chbosky’s foray into horror would be successful due to the literary chops he flashed throughout TPOBAW.  However, I am sad to say that at the end of this novel I was left feeling heavy disappointment. The first 200 pages set up a very intriguing and objectively creepy story and the majority of its characters are well written and fleshed out.  There are definitely some sequences that work really well. Then, around the halfway point, things fall apart. Its bloated length is definitely a problem. I am confident that an editor could remove 250 pages of this book and it wouldn’t damage the story at all.  There is an absurd amount of repetition that comes across as padding and does not serve the story in a way that worked for me. I don’t want to get into plot specifics, but I also really, really did not like the “twist” of this book. This novel morphs into something generic by its end and I turned the final page feeling like I had wasted my time - a definite bummer considering my love for THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.  Some readers will find things to enjoy in IMAGINARY FRIEND. I was not one of them.         

2.5/5 Stars 

The Horror Hypothesis - Night Worms Bio Donnie Hypothesis is an avid reader, writer, and collector of horror fiction.  He runs the Bookstagram page, “The Horror Hypothesis,” which advocates for the Horror literature genre as a whole.  He currently lives in Central Virginia where he spends most of his free time reading, making music, playing video games, and watching movies.   

Imaginary Friend is a first-hand look into the innocence and terrors only seen through a child’s eyes. Reading this book was a surreal experience, Stephen Chbosky is an extraordinary storyteller.

When I started reading this book I immediately thought of The Odyssey. 80’s kids know what’s up! The Odyssey is this show about a kid that goes into a coma following an accident. Essentially, its a look into the child’s mind and his journey to return home through a magical imaginary world. Imaginary Friend is a lot like that only a lot less magical and much, much more horrifying. I remember reading and being completely mystified by the story and then things took a turn about a quarter of the way through. That’s when some scary undertones started showing through. It reminded me of Pet Sematary and Poltergeist in some ways. Honestly, this book was mesmerizing. The storytelling ability of Stephen Chbosky is spectacular. I absolutely loved the characters here as well. It was emotional reading along as they developed with the story. There is one thing about the book that I thought was unnecessary and it’s my opinion that it ruined the creativity and uniqueness of the book, the religious aspect introduced near the end. That aside, the book is nostalgic, emotional, and spooky as hell!

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky gets a rating of 3/5 from me. I was really divided on how I wanted to rate this book because I thought this was a five star read until the author through a curveball and wrecked the experience for me. Although disappointed, I must be honest. It was really, really good for the most part. The story was very compelling, and the character development was amazing. I do think it was a good read and most people will really enjoy the book. You might just be left a little disappointed in the end, that’s all.

This is a quick intro to myself, my life, and why I write. I'm a husband and father who loves to read all things dark, thrilling, mysterious, and suspenseful. I didn't always enjoy reading but have been nothing short of obsessed over the last five or so years. The obsession has lead to writing and so here I am fighting for time to read and write while trying to work a full-time job and satisfy my family's needs (#1 priority). I write to encourage others to read and take part in open discussions about life from great books to parenting and adulting. I want to provide a space for like-minded individuals to read, and share their thoughts. Maybe we can help each other to find ways to read a little more with the limited time we have in the day.

-Andrew @bookdad

I had high hopes for it because Perks of Being a Wallflower was a book that helped me through my sad emo teen years and Imaginary Friend was getting all the hype on Bookstagram. However, I was ultimately disappointed. 
Imaginary Friend started out creepy and slow and then sucked me in and gave me Joe Hill and Stephen King vibes, but then the tropes started coming out and with it came religious propaganda in full force. And the big bad guy battle lasted 150+ pages too damn long to keep my interest, yet I  kept reading because I was so angry at myself for already investing so much time into this book.
***SpOileRs aHeAD***
(and yes the random capitalization in the book annoyed the hell outta me!)
Why does the sweet Catholic girl have to become a sinner suddenly and then immaculately conceive?!
Wtf is going on with the majority of the female characters never being called their names? "Christopher's mom" "Mrs. Keizer" and why is everyone abused and then healed with the power of loveeeee? Why couldn't we just have a creepy thriller about an imaginary friendship with a ghost plastic bag and not a legendary battle of Good and Evil and God and the Devil? Ugh, so disappointed.
The best part of the whole book was this exchange:
"Christopher's mother knew her way around dangerous men. There was only one way to handle a guy like this.
"Hey, little dick. You touch anything near my kid, and I'll break your fucking hands"
The man looked her dead in the eye.
"Proud of it," she said with her best poker face.
Why couldn't Kate (AKA Christopher's mom) be that way for the whole book and not just one tiny supermarket part?
Anyways,  I'm so mad at myself for reading this whole thing right down to its smarmy religious mysterious ending. Eye-rolling forever.  2 stars.

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